On Saturday, November 11, GotSoccer is hosting all of the confirmed candidates for the position of U.S. Soccer President in a two-hour Candidates Forum to be held at the 10th annual GotSoccer/GotPro Winter Convention in Atlantic Beach, Florida. The event will also be live-streamed.
And so, with the day rapidly approaching GotSoccer has invited each of the potential leaders to state his case.
Today we feature U.S. Soccer Hall of Famer Paul Caligiuri.
Paul Caligiuri saved American soccer once before and now, at what Caligiuri calls a moment of “transformational change,” for the sport in the United States, he would like the chance to do it again. The first time, back in 1989, Caliguri rescued American soccer from continued obscurity, as well as the embarrassment of hosting the 1994 World Cup without having qualified for the previous Cup, when he scored “The Shot Heard Round the World” to beat Trinidad and Tobago, sending the U.S. to the World Cup for the first time in 40 years.
Now, with the U.S. missing out on the World Cup for the first time after last month’s calamitous loss in Trinidad and Tobago, ironically in the same stadium where Caligiuri scored his famous goal, the former defender/midfielder told GotSoccer that he is running to succeed Sunil Gulati as the President of U.S. Soccer.
GotSoccer spoke to Caligiuri by phone and the 53-year old former defender/midfielder let it be known that he is aiming high when he told GotSoccer, “you’ll be the first to hear that my goal is to win the World Cup in 2022.”
“That’s bold” Caligiuri admits. “As bold as you can get but I believe in the athletes, I believe we have talented coaches, and minds and if we put it together great things can happen.”
Caligiuri wants to see U.S. Soccer “do everything we possibly can to help the men’s national team. The proper selection process, the proper development, the proper opportunities, the proper coaching staff.”
“From A to Z” Caligiuri stated that the mission is, “to inspire these athletes to do whatever they can to win the World Cup.” Caligiuri has equally lofty goals for the U.S. Women’s National Team, saying “we need to continue to be successful and go back to back World Cups.”
Caligiuri’s Hall of Fame playing career brought him from UCLA to Germany and East Germany and then to the fledgling MLS, first with Columbus in 1996 and to the LA Galaxy where Caligiuri retired in 2001.
The California native has stayed in the game since his retirement in a variety of roles, from coaching both the men’s and women’s teams at Cal Poly Pomona and semipro club Orange County FC, a job he still holds, to coaching youth sides, to serving on the U.S.S.F. Athlete’s Council and Board of Directors.
For Caligiuri, the “inspiration has always been there to help and build soccer in America and that remains my commitment.” Caligiuri told GotSoccer that “we need to be better. We will do the right thing for all members players coaches, and the communities we serve.”
Caligiuri did not want to lay out a detailed plan in a phone conversation, saying that he is “excited to present that at the GotSoccer Forum,” adding that he hasn’t seen detailed plans from the other candidates.
Caligiuri dismissed the Mission 26/27 plan put forward by U.S. Soccer Vice President and Presidential candidate Carlos Cordeiro, as “methods that have been in place for a long time.”
Asked to comment on the recent ill will between the women’s national team and the federation Caligiuri didn’t hold back. “The women who spoke out are our heroes,” Caligiuri said, adding “these issues can be massively avoided for the better of the game.”
Saying that USWNT players have positively influenced “millions, maybe a billion people around the planet,” Caligiuri believes that it is vital that U.S. Soccer “do the right thing” going forward and to avoid what he calls “these plaguing issues.”
“We are divided,” Caligiuri stated. “From every pillar of the game. From the pro side to the youth, and to the adults.” ”In a lot of ways this division has been enhanced through the leadership,” which Caligiuri contends, “is not leadership.”
Caligiuri wants to be the leader to get U.S. Soccer’s various warring tribes “to lock arms and build this unified effort because the task of being the best in the world is a huge goal. It is the biggest goal, the highest goal.”
It is the highest of standards,” Caligiuri notes, adding, “I believe that I can be that leader that we are looking for.”
Member of U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame. Head Men’s and Women’s Coach at Cal Poly Pomona. Youth Coach.
Member of Athlete’s Council U.S. Soccer
Board Member at U.S. Soccer.